#VendorWeek: Swiss street paper invites readers to swap places with vendors

Next month, INSP’s Swiss member Surprise is challenging readers to swap roles with their favourite vendor to find out just how tough their job really is.

Guest seller events in Basel, Bern and Zurich will form part of #VendorWeek, an international celebration of street paper vendors which runs from 1– 7 February.

By trying their hand at selling a street paper for one hour, readers will have a unique opportunity to show solidarity with Surprise vendors and appreciate the skills and perseverance their job requires.

Surprise readers swap roles with their local vendor to support #VendorWeek in Bern, Switzerland 2015.

Surprise’s Managing Director and INSP Board Member, Paola Gallo, said her team hopes to build on the success of last year’s inaugural event.

“Our vendors are all very excited to participate, and to have their readers be the ones selling the paper instead of them,” said Paola.

“The experience for the readers is usually quite similar – they feel invisible and realise that when no one take notice of you, it can make you feel useless and insignificant.

“Events like these are fantastic because it definitely creates more awareness of the huge job our vendors do. People learn that it takes a lot of courage and persistence from our vendors to fight against this attitude.”

“I really admire the vendors who are persistently out in this cold weather.”

Surprise’s events run from 1 – 4 February and all proceeds from street paper sales will go straight to vendors.

In its January edition, Surprise ran an advert inviting readers to take part. It introduced some of the 30 vendors participating in the event and encouraged readers to pick a vendor they would like to trade places with.

One such vendor was Rada Holenweger, who has sold Surprise in Basel since 2009.

“At home, I feel lonely, as I am alone. When I sell Surprise, I am able to speak with people, laugh with them and watch them whilst they shop,” said the 68-year-old.

Surprise vendors provide guest sellers with tips beforehand, accompany them to the vending location and talk about their own experiences.

Surprise reader Marco (L) tries his hand at selling a street paper in Bern, 2015.

One participant from last year’s event described taking part as eye-opening.

“I didn’t expect people to be so ignorant,” admitted Marco, who sold Surprise for an hour during a very rainy day in Bern.

“People would often change course to avoid me just so they wouldn’t have to deal with me. I would have been grateful for a simple ‘no thanks’.

“I really admire the vendors who are persistently out in this cold weather. It chills you to the bone, but the coldness of some people is almost worse.”

“Events like these are fantastic because it definitely creates more awareness of the huge job our vendors do.”

It’s not just readers taking part. Five celebrity vendors, including musicians and politicians, will also sell the street paper.

Rapper and presenter Knackeboul will sell Surprise in Zurich on 3 February. “I admire the vendors who do this job with great dedication every day. I want to experience how it feels, how passers-by behave and how I handle their reactions,” he said.

Stay tuned for updates on INSP’s #VendorWeek events happening across the UK – including some celebrity vendors taking part in our guest seller events across the UK!

Find out more about #VendorWeek here.

Anyone interested in taking part in Surprise’s #VendorWeek events should contact; or